According to the State of Connecticut, only the Democrats and Republicans are considered major Political Parties. Connecticut does have a rich history of Third (also called Minor) Political parties. Some have statewide enrollment, which means anyone from the state can join even if they are not active in that residents town.
Currently, minor parties with statewide enrollment privileges* are
- Green Party
- Independent Party
- Libertarian Party
- Working Families Party
Connecticut General Statutes §9-372(6) defines minor party as, “a political party or organization which is not a major party and whose candidate for the office in question received at the last-preceding regular election for such office,…at least one percent of the whole number of votes cast for all candidates for such office at such election.”
Huh? That’s is a little hard to understand.
OK, let’s simplify. Let’s say a group of people in a CT town decide to put their own slate of candidates together because they are interested in making a change in which the existing parties may not agree.
The first step is to put together a nominating petition with the names of their candidates and a party designation. They don’t have to have a person in each open slot, but the names and addresses of those interested in running must be revealed on this form. It gets filed with the Town Clerk and then submitted to the Secretary of States office. If it fulfills all the requirements and is accepted, the next step is collect 28 signatures of town residents that back this slate. The names and addresses are checked by the Town Clerk to certify that all are qualified residents.
The Secretary of State’s office receives the petition and signatures and then grants the request of the group to put their candidates on the official ballot.
But, they are not yet a third party!
One percent of the votes in each office must be cast for these candidates. So, if 500 people vote for Treasurer, at least 5 have to be for the candidate with the new group.
Each role that receives the 1% vote gives the new group the right to put their candidates on the ballot without getting signatures. That makes them a third or minor party in the state of CT. They may have a caucus as well. Note that hey may only do this for the roles that receive the 1%. Any other role must go through the original process.
If the third party does not run a candidate for each of these roles in future elections, they may forfeit their status with the state.
It works in a similar way if a single person wants to run independently. Because there is an established Independent Party, the person is designated “Unaffiliated” If s/he gets the 28 signatures on the nominating petition, they will be named on the ballot on their own line.
Endorsement also has several meanings. Only a registered political party may “endorse” or nominate a candidate without a nominating petition. But, any group can endorse (show support) a candidate such as a union or group saying they support a particular candidate.
Why am I telling you all this, you may ask….
The anticipation of the caucuses in Redding on Tuesday night has the town on it’s toes, wondering who will be on the slates hoping for our votes. The Secretary of State has given a nod to a new group that has applied to nominate their slate. More details to come!